How to Discipline a One-Year-Old: The 7 Methods for First-Time Parents

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Whenever you put discipline to your one-year-old, one crucial thing to remember is that you mean to teach them, not punish. At this time, your baby begins to learn about the world around them. Use these methods below to deliver good discipline without harming their mental and physical well-being.

How to Discipline a One-Year-Old
Teaching discipline to a one-year-old can be easier with these steps recommended by experts

You may think that disciplining a one-year-old child is not appropriate, but it is a normal stage of childhood development. Many people consider imparting discipline as a kind of punishment. 

However, there is a key difference between the two.

Punishment is delivered as a consequence of bad behavior and is often associated with immoral standards. 

On the other hand, discipline aims to train your child to learn morals and values that will allow them to conform to a positive set of rules.

Your child’s neural pathways start to develop at a very young age. In toddlers, brains are relatively plastic and can be easily wired. Therefore, it is considered important to discipline your child at an early age. 

But make no mistakes. Parents play the most vital role in terms of disciplining their baby.

Whenever you observe that your child does something against your value or culture, you need to consider this as a golden opportunity to pass on the correct and acceptable behaviors.

This method will help your baby construct well-developed ethical networks inside the brain. To achieve this, you must provide an encouraging environment among the family member to motivate your child to behave according to your values.

What Age Is Appropriate for Discipline?

Experts agree that disciplining a baby can start as soon as 8 months of age. Although there is no denying that it can begin sooner. 

You will see it coming when your baby repeatedly smashes toys against your TV and laughs hysterically. Once you realize that your baby starts demonstrating negative behaviors, it is time for you to learn how to discipline a one-year-old.

Can You Discipline a One-Year-Old?

Baby doing outdoor activity
Yes, you can discipline a one-year-old and that is okay, even recommended

The answer is yes. Although, the method of disciplining a one-year-old is different from an 8 months old baby. Starting at the age of 1, your baby is now considered a toddler and it is the most dangerous period of childhood.

You need him to listen to your warnings and stop once being told so. To do so, you can apply the time-our method where you give warnings with respect. The Happiest Baby gives a well-thought method on how to discipline a baby. 

Here is how.

Step 1: Warn your child that it is not okay to do (insert behavior you want to discipline). Give one last warning with respect.

Step 2: Ask your child if he wants a time-our for continuing such behavior. Remember, this step is crucial. You want your 1-year-old to learn that a time-out is a consequence of demonstrating a negative behavior.

For example, you see your toddler is smashing the TV repeatedly, you notice that and go “Elliot, do you want a time-out?”

It gives your toddler a sense of choice. If he does not want a time-out, he should stop. If he doesn’t, then the discipline takes place.

Step 3: Put your toddler in a safe corner or low chair and say “You are on a time-out for 1 minute. Calm down, and you can join me again.” The thumb-rule is one minute per year of age. 

Set up a timer and when time is up, ask if he is calm and ready to come back. Right after he says yes, forget what happened, forgive, and reconnect with him. Later on, you can revisit what happened and reinforce your message through bedtime stories.

Can a One-Year-Old Have Behavior Problems?

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A one-year-old can have behavior problems and it’s considered normal. At this age, your 12-month-old child is incapable of anger or revenge. They don’t possess control to stop displaying behaviors they’re told not to.

Suppose your 1-year-old is throwing things at people, smashing toys against the TV, turning the radio on and off, or getting into trouble. You don’t need to be reactionary. Instead, understand that those are parts of children’s development. 

Although it can be unbearable to see these kinds of behaviors, your toddler does not mean to annoy you or push the button. What you need is a lot of patience and develop a better response.

Since they don’t have impulse control, you cannot expect them to stop doing a certain activity right after you stay “stop”. However, you can teach them what set of behaviors are acceptable and what not.

Only once your baby turns 3.5 to 4 years of age, he can better control and restrain those impulses, and become fully conscious of his action.

How to Discipline a One-Year-Old

How to discipline a 1-year-old?
How to discipline a 1-year-old? Read the basic steps and recommended methods to make your parenthood calmer

The process of disciplining your child does not have to incorporate punishments or penalties. Instead of reprimanding your children, you need to subtly redirect their attention towards an alternative and fun activity.

Experts suggest that delivering a short message such as “no” or “stop” will help your toddler understand the concept faster.

#1. Set up rules among family members

Children come into this world without any kind of preconceived ideas or notions. They have a strikingly active mind which drives them to explore everything that might seem new and attractive.

Due to an extreme lack of experience and knowledge, children at such a young age are bound to go off track. This is where you need to play your role as a parent.

You have to set out boundaries so that your one-year-old starts to understand when it is appropriate to perform a certain activity and when it is not. 

Being inconsistent will confuse your baby. What you have to do is to create the basic guidelines for family members. Explain to other family members regarding the methods of delivering the discipline. 

The family has to have unanimous agreements to handle certain negative actions from your toddler. Make sure that you and your spouse are on the same page. You can inform the rules to the grandparents as well, whenever they are coming to visit.

For example, if you think that climbing on the sofa is okay for your baby to do so, let your partner know. Avoid having different rules between spouses as this will not bring the best outcome of discipline.

#2. Out of sight, out of mind

A baby does not understand your commands right away. That’s why you need to babyproof your home and remove things that your baby shouldn’t have. If your baby doesn’t see it, he will not think about it.

Experts suggest starting babyproofing the house at least 3 months before your due date. But you can also do it even later. Once your baby starts to crawl around the age of 6 months to 8 months, you better be done babyproofing the house and ensure the safety of your baby.

#3. Be patient and consistent

Children repeat mistakes all the time. Sometimes, you just need to ignore your baby’s bad behavior until you know that it is time to put discipline. That’s why at an early age, you need to forget and forgive.

It requires patience to deal with the daily problems that your baby may create. Some babies can sense frustration coming from their parents. As an outcome, your baby is frustrated too. 

Therefore, you need to keep your cool and lower your stress level. I cannot tell you more than forget his mistakes and forgive him.

Once you know that it is time for him to learn discipline, then you can start practicing the recommended methods.

Tell your baby what he can and cannot have. Use a flat and factual tone with love. Being consistent and repetitive will help him to figure out what you’re saying and what the boundaries are. 

Even if you think your baby does not understand, always use a loving and caring tone when communicating the limits with your baby. 

Now, babies are quick on getting tones. If your voice tone is too loud or harsh, they may get startled and start crying. Better to use a cheerful voice to deliver your message.

For example, when your baby starts picking up things he shouldn’t have, say, “No! No! How about the yellow duck? It’s so much fun to play with the yellow duck!”

#4. Praise, praise praise!

Children crave attention. Appreciate them whenever they do something according to your value. They are more likely to repeat the activities that earn your acknowledgment and recognition.

Take some time and cherish all the stages of child development with your baby. Try to incorporate verbal and non-verbal clues to let your child know that he demonstrates good behavior.

Even when your baby is struggling to understand what’s good and not, you need to keep focusing on the good things and praise him.

Give rewards to your baby in return for depicting decent behavior. This will encourage them to replicate that particular conduct repeatedly. As well as children can sense parents’ frustration, they can also sense if their parents are happy with them.

Tell your baby how excellent he is and how much you love him. Demonstrate with gestures, body language, and words. A tiny gesture, such as having a pleasant smile on your face, will teach your child to associate that activity with having positive repercussions.

Having said that, you need to balance things out by only using this method for certain things that he displays. Otherwise, your baby will begin to do other things less because he doesn’t receive any reward.

#5. Observing your baby’s behavior

Observe your baby’s habits and preferences. Recognize what makes him goes fussy. Do you have any idea why it happens? Was your voice too loud? Did you just take away his toys?

Keeping this in mind will help you later on when you realize that your baby is crying because another baby is crying. As simple as that.

Although babies have similar characteristic traits at this stage of development, every child has their unique preferences. It’s unwise to come up with a fixed and rigid set of rules for everyone. 

You know your baby the most.

Adapt your behavior and methods of discipline upon the nature of your baby. Think about his behavior and learn his mood patterns.

Once you get a thorough understanding of how your child behaves under varied circumstances, you will be able to predict reactions. 

Although one-year-old children cannot communicate effectively, you can figure out several things by their facial expressions and body language.

All of these methods and tasks may seem overwhelming for first-time parents. However, just like every other skill, your parenting expertise will substantially enhance as you gain experience.

#6. Your baby is now independent

You know that at this age, your baby will start being stubborn. Let him decide what he wants to do and you will alleviate lots of stress from your shoulder.

This is the reason why it is important to babyproof your house as soon as possible. A safe environment allows your baby to explore his surroundings and be adventurous.

#7. Be less reactionary

First-time parents tend to overprotective towards their babies. A baby does something wrong and the parents freak out. That is completely a no-go.

Try to react to negative situations calmly. Do not display your anger in front of your baby. Take a deep breath, relax, and count to ten. Being aggressive and reactionary will only escalate the problem and upset your baby.

Some parents are quick with their hands. Meaning, they are reactionary with their slaps and spanks. If this is the case, try to manage your behavior.

You do not want to teach your baby that it is okay to hit someone. Displaying and committing to such behavior will only develop bad character traits for your kids.

The Bottom Line

One-year-old children can be particularly difficult to discipline. Even though this is really frustrating, disciplining your child from a very young age will benefit you in the long run.

Patience and consistent are extremely necessary to teach your baby what’s good for him and not. 

Most babies turn up spoiled later because they are not given clear rules and boundaries. Set up an agreement with your partner about what is okay and what is not.

To provide your children with the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, you must teach them about the association between different activities. Praise good activities he displays and gives more kisses and hugs for certain activities.

Put effort into babyproof your home. A one-year-old will become more and more stubborn along the way and they have a feeling for adventures. Allow your baby to do things on his own will alleviate stress and make your life calmer.

I hope you have found the answers to how to discipline a one-year-old by reading this article. 

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Elise Schiller
Elise Schillerhttps://www.parenting-hub.com
Elise is the head writer in Parenting Hub. She focuses on early childhood parenting and teenage years. Currently, she also learns about parenting adult children. She enjoys writing and sharing insights regarding child development and mental health.

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